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Our Honest Garden | From Seeds to Starter Plants to Stalks

When growing a family garden with kids, do you start with seeds or skip to purchasing baby starter plants from a local nursery? We’ve tried growing our garden from seeds for the last couple of years, but I’m beginning to think that the baby plants from the nursery are the way to go. 

I love the idea of starting a garden from seeds and growing the little plants from the very beginning. I love the idea of encouraging my boys to watch the full process from start to finish as fruits and vegetables transform from nearly nothing to food on their plates.

I love the idea…. But after two years of growing plants from seeds, I’m not convinced I actually love the execution.

Loving The Idea But Not The Execution

M and I talk regularly, especially as we set goals and intentions for our lives, about the difference between loving the idea of something and actually loving it enough to put forth the effort to execute said idea or concept in real life.

For example, M likes the idea of being a reader. It sounds eloquent, romantic, and intellectual. But M doesn’t really like reading, so dedicating a significant amount of time to something that literally puts him to sleep doesn’t make sense for him. 

I like the idea of being really fit (like when I was 22… those were the days.) I have a lot of interests outside fitness, however, and a limited amount of free time. I don’t want to actually commit the time necessary to be really fit at the expense of other interests in my life. The goal sounds glamorous and all, but executing it in my real-life sounds exhausting.

Growing Plants from Seeds Sounds Nice And All…

After two failed seasons of trying to grow plants from seeds, I’m starting to think it’s a nice idea that isn’t worth my time. It sounds great. It feels like the “right” low waste, environmentally-responsible choice. Growing from seed offers more options for heirloom and organic varieties.

But when most of the seedlings died in the garden within a week or two of planting this year, and baby plants from the nursery that replaced them are flourishing, the whole “start from seed” thing is feeling like a giant waste of effort. Not to mention, the healthy and strong baby plants from the local nursery, grown from seeds, cost a $1.99 each. Maybe buying starter plants isn’t the more eco-friendly thing to do, but it seems like the right choice for us for now.

After some reflection, I’m pretty sure we started growing our seeds too late, so they don’t have time to mature enough before transplanting them to our garden. Maybe next year I could start them earlier and try, yet again, to grow our garden from seeds. 

But honestly, I probably won’t. 

Is It Really That Much Better?

Seeds come in packets with far more than I need. Unless I order them in bulk from online retailers, I don’t have a lot of options that are organic or heirloom variety seeds, which I would prefer to use if I’m putting forth the effort to start from the very beginning.

The seed containers we used this year brought ants into our house. The ants didn’t overtake the room in which the plants lived, but it wasn’t lost on me that the “ant farm” resided just a few feet from my younger son’s bed. 

Our gardening adventures have been nothing short of a series of experiments with plenty of failures and mistakes along the way. I’m still new to this “green thumb” thing, so I knew that our experience would definitely not be perfect. I’m okay with that.

I’m also satisfied learning that when it comes to our garden, it’s okay to take some shortcuts. 

Store-Bought Starter Plants Are Flourishing

As J & I meandered through the local nursery just a few blocks from our house a couple of weeks ago, his eyes lit up with each passing flower and vegetable baby plant that he couldn’t wait to plant in his corner of the garden. He said he enjoyed having the plants live in our house as well, but I’m beginning to think that it might make more sense to find a few more traditional house plants to satiate that indoor green thumb curiosity he harbors. 

Over the last couple of weeks, we replaced nearly all of the seed starters with baby plants purchased at the store. The baby plants seem to be flourishing and soaking into the soil just fine. I think that’s my indication that it ought to be the way of the future for our backyard family garden, at least at this stage in life. 

Should the boys really want to see the whole process from seed to fruit, I’m happy to grow a few of the plants from seeds (which also reinforces their life-cycle understanding), and then fill most of our garden with baby plants from the nursery. 

If you have a garden do you start from seeds and grow in your house or do you buy the baby starter plants direct from the nursery to make starting your family garden a little bit easier? If you start from seed, share your tricks! Apparently, we need them.

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